For the past two years or so, I have been hearing about Obstacle Course Racing (Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash, Spartan Race etc…) and I wanted to try competing in one but never considered myself a runner.
With the chronic knee pain I had been plagued with for the better part of the last decade, running was the last thing I wanted to do. Then I started playing ball hockey, where I was pounding the pavement twice a week, and I realized how fast of a runner I am and how I didn’t hate running if it involved doing something I love.
About nine months ago I was introduced to a Facebook group called The Canadian Mudd Queens and I was immersed in OCR talk 24/7. From women in their late 20′s who’ve been athletes their entire lives, to moms and women in their 40′s who had just started their own journeys to optimum health this group was full of inspiring stories, photos and amazing camaraderie.
Thanks to the CMQs, I learned training tips, rope climbing techniques, what kind of shoes and clothing to wear and how many different obstacle course races there are.
Because of this group I went out and bought my first pair of ‘real’ running shoes (you know – going to a store and picking running shoes that properly fit and are matched to your foot shape and gait, instead of walking into a store and picking your favourite colour of shoes), bought my first pair of running tights and that day I went outside in the middle of winter and ran my first straight 5 km in just 30:35.
It was exhilarating but my old habits quickly returned.
Even after I signed myself up for my first OCR in June (Mud Hero, Ottawa) I couldn’t motivate myself to do any running training. I ran maybe 3-5 times a month, sometimes less. Most of the CMQ women were running a few times a week, if not daily. Sometimes I’d get into a groove and actually run a few times a week but it just wasn’t that ‘fun’ for me.
I can run in a race, I can run in ball hockey games or for other sports but to set out on a 2 or 3 hour long run during training? No thanks.
I found myself constantly skipping over training days in my Run Keeper app, especially if they were over 5km and I would have to be running for over 40 minutes.
In March, after my car accident, I stopped working out entirely for almost 2 months. I lost my gains in the gym and I wasn’t playing any hockey. Knowing my first race was only 11 weeks away was starting to make me really nervous since everyone else in the group was always talking about their training regimens and here I was sitting around at home just wasting away.
My first workout after my car accident was The O Course on May 25, one week before Mud Hero. I wanted to use O Course as a training session for Mud Hero. That was probably the hardest thing I had done in my life up until that point. I couldn’t even get through the 45 minute warm up. I was nauseous, dizzy and exhausted! I sat out the last 15 minutes of the warm-up until the actual race started.
(You can see me at :025 in the blue shirt, 1:30 and 1:38 in a sports bra).
The course itself wound up being closer to 8 km (not the 5 km they said it was) and we had to run with a 4 lbs piece of wood for the first half of the run! It was my first time ever having to climb up a rope, jump over walls, carry things that heavy and get yelled at – Military style. When I finally crossed that finish line I actually had tears in my eyes.
I later found out that I had made the list of top 20 female finishers, with a time of 1:40:06.
And so began my love affair with muddy obstacle course racing.
The following weekend I completed Mud Hero (which was actually 6 km) in 54:10. I finished 12th among 179 other female competitors aged 20-24 and 51st among a total of 839 females.
I ran Mud Hero Toronto on August 24 and improved my time to 48:36, finishing 39 among 499 females aged 20-24 and 263 of 2777 total females.
My husband jumped on the OCR band wagon after he saw how much fun I was having at the events. We completed our first race and Spartan Sprint together on June 22.
The race wound up being about 7.8 km. I managed to avoid doing any burpees until the rings at the very end. My finishing time was 1:43:21 and my hubby crossed the finish line 30 seconds later at 1:43:52.
Next year my husband and I plan to achieve the Spartan Trifecta along with the two other friends I introduced to the sprint.
My final obstacle course race of the year, and first at a ski hill, was the 5 km Prison Break. I’ve never ran hills in my life let alone ski hills.
Well, it’s not like I actually ran up those hills…
I was really disappointed that I couldn’t do the rope climb and had to burpees instead, considering I was successful with the rope at The O Course and at Spartan.
I finished in 1:06:07 which was pretty good considering I walked most of the course (all those hills!).
Prison Break was the race that left me the most beat up afterwards…my knees, thighs and arms were covered in scrapes and bruises. It was so worth it though!
I ran more in one day during the Sears Great Canadian Run than I did the entire previous month. Wouldn’t you know it, I haven’t clocked a single km in the 25 days since then either.
I think I added more clothing to my wardrobe this summer from races than I did from shopping. I also earned more medals this summer alone than I have in the last five or six years playing sports.
Next year I plan to run in my first 1/2 marathon, marathon and complete my first Spartan Trifecta.
I keep setting up running plans on my Run Keeper App that I never actually stick to, so my other goal is to actually start running a few times a week.